What is the history of the Sydney Harbour Bridge?

The Sydney Harbour Bridge had its beginning when engineer John Bradfield was appointed chief engineer of the bridge project in 1912. Working with him was Ralph Freeman, London-born engineer. The plans were finished in 1916, but because of World War I, no further work was done until 1922. At this time, the path and foundations for the bridge had to be completed, with up to 800 families living in the path of the proposed Bridge path being relocated, and their homes demolished. The bridge began to be actually constructed in 1924. During the eight years it took to build the Sydney Harbour Bridge, 1400 men were employed, 16 of whom lost their lives. The bridge cost £4.2 million to build.

The famous arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge (popularly nicknamed The Coathanger) was built in two halves. Each half cantilevered from either shore of Sydney harbour and was tied back by steel cables anchored into U-shaped tunnels dug into the rock. The two halves of the arch were begun towards the end of 1928, and joined around 10pm on 19 August 1930.

The bridge was officially opened on 19 March 1932 by New South Wales Premier, the Honourable John T Lang. However, just as he officially declared the Bridge open, Captain Francis De Groot of the political group The New Guard charged on his horse and slashed the ribbon with his sword in protest. The objection was based on the fact that the Governor-General Sir Isaac Isaacs had not been asked to open the bridge. After De Groot was arrested, the ribbon was retied, and Lang completed the opening ceremony. This was followed by a 21-gun salute and a RAAF fly-past.